La Tiendita at Essex Market Now Carries Breezy Hill

This morning I noticed Knoll Krest eggs & pasta at the La Tiendita stall in the Essex Street Market, as well as some (stored) apples from Breezy Hill Orchards. Turns out the Lower Eastside Girls Club is hooked up with Breezy Hill this year to bring some of the same good food we’re eating to more people in the neighborhood.

Not only is the Essex Street Market my favorite place to shop, but the Girls Club is a great organization with a bakery called Sweet Things on Ave. C.

When you buy from The Lower Eastside Girls Club you are doing more than consuming a cookie. Your purchase supports programs that teach inner-city girls culinary arts and business skills. Girls in the Sweet Things Company also participate in educational support and leadership training programs.

(Though, just to be fair, you should also know about the great eggs from Indian Run-Shady Maple Run available at Saxelby Cheesemongers just a few stalls down from La Tiendita at Essex Street.)

CSA Extras: Fruit

Last summer was a difficult season for fruit farmers in the northeast — all the rain in June not only washed out many early summer berries, but also altered the growing pattern of different varieties of pears and apples later on. Last year was also our first time partnering with a fruit farmer, and the first year that Breezy Hill Orchards was working with CSAs, which made for some miscommunication about what fruit we’d be getting each week.

Nevertheless, we ended up with some delicious stone fruits in the middle of the summer as well as a bounty of apples into autumn, and the reports from our end-of-season members’ survey were mostly positive. We’ve also had some very productive conversations with Elizabeth Ryan of Breezy Hill, and feel confident that our second season (weather permitting) will be much better than our first.

One thing you should know is that Breezy Hill is not organic — in the northeast, pests are not controllable without some spraying. The apples are certified Eco Apples, which is a particular program of integrated pest management where prevention, traps, beneficial insect predators, and other methods are used to control pests, and chemical pesticides are used only as a last resort. Plums, pears, and peaches are easier to grow without pesticides, and some berries get no spray at all. But in the northeast, it’s impossible to grow apples that way.

The other thing you should remember is that Breezy Hill is an orchard. We’ll be getting rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, and pears — but make no mistake, we’ll be getting lots of apples.

   Full share: $210
   Half share: $105

The fruit season starts one week later than our vegetables, and will take a week off within the first month when there’s nothing to harvest, so we’ll be getting only 21 weeks of fruit.

Fruit Share Update

Several of you have asked, so we thought we’d post an answer: we do plan on having a fruit share available again for 2010, though we haven’t yet worked out the details.

There were some concerns from members about our partner last year, Breezy Hill Orchard, mostly stemming from miscommunication early in the season. We’ve been in touch with them about those issues, and recently received this note from Breezy Hill’s Elizabeth Ryan:

Hi, I am writing to touching base about our CSA program this year. As you know, last year was our first ever experience with CSAs, and it was a quite rocky. It took us a while to get a grip on the whole thing, and as it turned out, it was also a pretty challenging year in terms of the weather, The rain was unprecedented, there were actually only 4 days in June that did not rain., and that was only the beginning of some pretty challenging weather. We wanted to reach out to you to get an understanding of whether you want to work together this year.

We learned a lot last year. We will be making some very substantial changes in our CSA’s this year. There will be significantly more summer fruit, more diversity, better communication and hopefully it will be a successful year. We have spent the last several months working through the successes and challenges of last year, and have had some very helpful conversations and feedback from CSA members and lots of great advice from other CSA farmers. We also have taken on another wonderful farm with lots of cherries,peaches, plums, and apricots,

We have a full time CSA coordinator this year, Anne Matos Diaz. We will be expanding the variety of the weekly shares, we heard a lot that the early season quantities were too small, and the members wanted more diversity of fruit on a weekly basis. We think we can do that. We will also be hosting a CSA blog so that member can have a better idea of what’s ripe and ready each week.

Probably our most important innovation will be a discount program so that our CSA members can get an ongoing discount in the farmers markets. I am hoping to meet personally if possible at the beginning of the season with each CSA to be sure that we are all on the same page, and to answer questions in person. We have drafted a brochure that we will be handing out at the Just Food meetings, We want to be sure that the expectations on the part of the members are line with what is realistic from a production point of view. We also hope that CSA members will take advantage of the opportunity to visit our beautiful orchards more this year.

We will also be offering the egg and pasta shares again, that was pretty straight forward.

Please let me know, of course feel free to forward this to anyone who you think should get it,

with best regards,
Elizabeth Ryan